My Thoughts on the Final Report of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force

One week ago, the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force released their final report, including recommendations to be made to the messengers in June at the SBC Annual Meeting. I had written previously on the initial report that was released back in February. This final report was greatly anticipated across SBC life. There was a belief that that final report would contain recommendations that were not listed in the initial report. That did not happen. There was however a new wording of the previous recommendations with some additional explanation of the task force’s thoughts on their work. Also, one of the original components was divided into two separate recommendations. New to this report is a series of challenges set forth by the task force. There are challenges issued to the individual Christian, individual families, local churches and pastors, local associations, state conventions, Lifeway, our seminaries, the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission, Guidestone, and all Southern Baptist leaders. These challenges reflect how each group can do their part in carrying out the Great Commission.

The final report includes seven recommendations written out in the form that each will be presented to messengers in June. As parliamentary rule goes, this report, including all seven recommendations will be voted on as a whole, unless a motion is made to divide and vote on each one individually, which is 99.9999% likely. I hope this is the case. I believe that an up/down vote on the entire report would not be in the best interest of the convention. However, I am just one pastor. Listed below are the recommendations exactly how the messengers will receive them. If presented as a whole, I would still have to vote no.

Recommendation #1:

“That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Orlando, Florida, June 15-16, 2010, adopt the following as the mission statement of the Southern Baptist Convention:”

As a convention of churches, our missional vision is to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations.

I plan on voting yes on this recommendation. I feel this is a good solid vision for the convention as a whole while allowing the church to keep their individual visions.

Recommendation #2:

“That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Orlando, Florida,  June 15-16, 2010, adopt the following as Core Values for our work together:”

CHRIST-LIKENESS

We depend on the transforming power of the Holy Spirit and prayer to make us more like Jesus Christ.

TRUTH

We stand together in the truth of God’s inerrant Word, celebrating the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

UNITY

We work together in love for the sake of the Gospel.

RELATIONSHIPS

We consider others more important than ourselves.

TRUST

We tell each other the truth in love and do what we say we will do.

FUTURE

We value Southern Baptists of all generations and embrace our responsibility to pass this charge to a rising generation in every age, faithful until Jesus comes.

LOCAL CHURCH

We believe the local church is given the authority, power, and responsibility to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world.

KINGDOM

We join other Christ-followers for the Gospel, the Kingdom of Christ, and the glory of God.

I plan on voting yes on this recommendation. These are solid value to pursue.

Recommendation #3:

 “That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Orlando, Florida, June  15-16, 2010, request the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention to consider recommending to the Southern Baptist Convention the adoption of the language  and structure of Great Commission Giving as described in this report in order to enhance and  celebrate the Cooperative Program and the generous support of Southern Baptists channeled through their churches. We further request that the boards of trustees of the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board consider the adoption of the Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong offering goals as outlined in this report.”

I plan on voting no on this recommendation. I personally believe that creating another description of giving in order to recognize and celebrate churches that choose designated giving over CP giving will only lessen the emphasis on Cooperative Program giving.

Recommendation #4:

” That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting June 15-16, 2010, request  the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention to consider any revision to the  ministry assignment of the North American Mission Board that may be necessary in order to  accomplish the redirection of NAMB as outlined in this report; and that the Board of  Trustees of the North American Mission Board be asked to consider the encouragements  found within this report in all matters under their purview.”

I plan on voting yes on this recommendation. I share the concern for a re-emphasis of the North American Mission Board.

 Recommendation #5:

“That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting June 15-16, 2010, request  that the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention and the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention consider a revised ministry assignment  for the International Mission Board that would remove any geographical limitation on its mission to reach unreached and underserved people groups wherever they are found.”

I plan on voting no on this recommendation. On the surface this recommendation makes sense. With the recent funding issues of IMB missionaries, it seems appropriate to me to keep their focus, time, and resources committed to people groups around the world.

Recommendation #6:

 “That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting June 15-16, 2010, request the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention to consider working with the leadership of the state conventions in developing a comprehensive program of        Cooperative Program promotion and stewardship education in alignment with this report.”

I plan on voting yes on this recommendation. I feel that the state conventions are in the best position to promote and educate the local churches regarding the Cooperative Program.

Recommendation #7:

” That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting June 15-16, 2010 in  Orlando, Florida, request the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention to consider recommending an SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget that will increase the percentage allocated to the International Mission Board to 51 percent by decreasing the  Executive Committee’s percentage of the SBC Allocation Budget by 1 percent.”

I plan on voting yes on this recommendation. More funding to the IMB is vital to the effectiveness of missionaries around the world in pushing back lostness. With the task of CP promotion and education taken from the Executive Committee and placed in the hands of the state conventions, it is a good idea to reallocate what the EC used for CP promotion and education and forward that to the IMB.

As a pastor I feel this is an important time in the life of the Southern Baptist Convention. The passing of and rejection of these recommendations can and will have far-reaching effects upon Southern Baptist life as we know, effecting conventions, associations, and local churches. None of these recommendations will be implemented immediately. These proposed changes to the structure of the SBC may be years in the making. What we must do as a local is make an individual commitment to carrying out the Great Commission where we have been planted by God. I believe in the Southern Baptist Convention, but I believe in the local church more.

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